Drug addiction is a chronic disease that changes some structures in the brain through ongoing abuse of certain chemicals, like alcohol or opioids, due to compulsive behaviors around substances. Addiction treatment focuses on evidence-based practices to overcome these behaviors so the individual struggling with addiction can get physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy.
There are three basic steps to take when overcoming addiction:
While these three parts of treatment create a solid foundation for long-term recovery, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states in their Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment that no single approach to any of these steps will work for everyone. Each individual has different needs, and this is especially true when it comes to approaches to therapy in a rehabilitation program.
To get the best rehab for you or a loved one, you should understand how clinicians diagnose addiction, different levels of treatment and what they provide, and what sorts of questions you can ask of treatment programs before you sign up.
If you have concerns about how you take drugs or drink alcohol, you should visit a physician for a diagnosis. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) has 11 updated criteria that clinicians use to diagnose substance use disorders.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) lists different levels of care on their continuum. The continuum offers different approaches to social, psychological, and medical care depending on what your needs are when you seek rehabilitation.
There are other factors that may impact the treatment path you follow:
When you visit a physician for a diagnosis, they will consider your demographic factors, current financial and social support, and what level of care you need based on the severity of your addiction. Once you have this diagnosis, there are other things you should consider when looking for the best treatment program for you.
You may receive a specific recommendation, or list of recommendations, from your physician after you have been assessed for substance abuse. This is a great starting point and should reflect your specific physical and behavioral needs. Here are some questions you can ask to find the best rehab for you:
If you are not the person seeking treatment, you can still ask these questions of a rehab program to understand how they may work for your loved one. You can then present these options to your loved one in a safe, calm environment when the person is sober and able to listen.
When searching for treatment, it can also be important to find resources that are closest to you geographically, financially within reach, and that align with your needs and beliefs. Here are some resources to find treatment options:
We know that quitting is never easy, but together there is always hope.
Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction. (January 2018). National Institute on Drug Abuse. from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-drug-addiction
Principles of Effective Treatment. (January 2018). National Institute on Drug Abuse. from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/principles-effective-treatment
Symptoms of Substance Use Disorder. (March 27, 2018). PsychCentral. from https://psychcentral.com/disorders/addictions/substance-use-disorder-symptoms/
What Are the ASAM Levels of Care? (May 13, 2015). Continuum: The ASAM Criteria Decision Engine. from https://www.asamcontinuum.org/knowledgebase/what-are-the-asam-levels-of-care/
Finding the Right Program for Substance Abuse. University of Rochester Medical Center. from https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=1&contentid=4497
How to Find a Good Drug Treatment Program and Avoid the Bad Ones. (June 25, 2017). NBC News. from https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/megyn-kelly/how-find-good-drug-treatment-program-avoid-bad-ones-n776101